Having the New York Islanders playing at Nassau Coliseum again has certainly given people nostalgia of the days when professional teams of major sports would play there on a permanent basis. But one team has been playing there since 2017 and they deserve your attention.
The Long Island Nets of the NBA G League, an affiliate of the Brooklyn Nets, clinched a first round bye in this year’s playoffs. and recently played in their first ever playoff game. First-year head coach Will Weaver says he has a lot to be proud of.
“The first thing that came to mind was just how gratified and happy I was for the returning players,” said Weaver. “The playoffs give you a chance to play with more people watching you. Anytime you are playing late in the year and there’s less teams competing, there’s more attention for our players who are all looking for opportunities to get jobs.”
The G League is the official minor league organization of the NBA, with 27 teams stacked with plenty of young, developmental prospects that could make the jump to the majors. If a player has shown enough growth and seems capable to play at that level, NBA franchises can at anytime pull a player from their affiliate G League team. For Weaver, it’s a different experience from other coaching jobs, but he doesn’t find it too difficult.
“It isn’t hard at all, in my view,” said Weaver. “If you go into it with a mindset of this being just another team, I could see where you would be disoriented. But my experience with players and coaching staffs have made it easier to see and appreciate the bigger picture. For us, it’s about helping players get better. Now, them performing well usually helps you win. But you won’t hear me talking about wins and you won’t hear players talking much about it.”
Will Weaver will be leaving the Nets after one year with the team to go coach the Sydney Kings of Australia, but he has enjoyed his short tenure with the developmental league and enjoys making the players under him better.
“My excitement in any job is getting the chance to be a part of a bigger team,” said Weaver. “In my second season with the Nets, I worked with our two-way players which was a new thing coming into the league and those kind of experiences had me paying attention to what was happening here on the island. I think our depth is what separates us from other clubs. That’s a credit to [general manager Sean Marks] and his management team for getting all of these great players. Long Island is a place where they can grow, improve and create opportunities for themselves.”